>Saturday 7th November – books and prosthetic legs

> It’s the start of the working week here in Hargeisa, and for me, another day to look at libraries in Hargeisa. We start at the LEDAT (Local Economic Development and Appropriate Technology) Resource Centre which has a well organised and busy library. There are many books on development but the Centre also acts as a community library and a busy one at that. The chairs are all taken, so users are sitting on mats and on the steps outside to read the books. There is also a curtained off section for girls only so that girls are not too shy to use the library. Most visitors to the library are using Book Aid International secondary textbooks.

After that we visit the Resource Centre of the Disability Action Network (DAN), which has just a few specialist books from Book Aid International (such as Disabled Village Children) and a few books from other organisations. We are given a tour of DAN’s work, which incudes a rehabilitation/physiotherapy unit and a workshop making equipment for the disabled including wheelchairs, prosthetic legs, and a variety of adapted shoes. It all looks well-resourced and professional, and I leave feeling impressed. Soon after, we pass a sign explaining that this minefield has been cleared by The Halo Trust, as is the case with most of the land around Hargeisa. The mines have more or less been cleared, they are not the only source of disability, but until recently, they posed a significant threat – see http://www.halotrust.org/somaliland.html

Then on to the University of Hargeisa to see this young university’s library. The stock is relatively OK, with many books from the Somali diaspora and a small amount from Book Aid International, but there are shortages in many subject areas such as construction and environmental science where books are totally lacking. An American teaching English at the University tells me that he has to start from the beginning with most students as the English is so poor, even at this level, so books on learning English are also key. Tonight is my last night in Hargeisa before flying out to Garowe in the neighbouring Puntland Sate of Somalia, which though not close to the coast, is said to be awash with pirate money!

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